Right now behind closed doors, European officials are deciding the fate of a ground-breaking democratic reform that could change EU politics, up to now dominated by an elite of governments, powerful companies and lobbyists.
The European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) requires the EU commission to act when it receives a request from over 1 million citizens. It's a radical innovation in EU governance, but it has some officials scared. They're trying to bury the ECI in a mountain of red tape - throwing up damaging barriers to citizens' participation.
Several members of the European Parliament are passionately fighting to protect the ECI. We urgently need a massive citizen outcry to weigh in on their side and shame the blocking governments and officials into creating the direct democracy that citizens want. Sign the petition below -- MEP Gerald Häfner, who is at the forefront of the negotiations, will present our petition in every Brussels back room meeting where it can make a difference:
For decades the European Union has been accused of suffering from overly complex, undemocratic decision-making processes that make EU politics inaccessible to citizens. But now, the ECI, introduced by the Lisbon Treaty last year, could be a real turning point in efforts to address the EU's democratic deficit.
Some member states, who fear greater citizen participation in the legislative process, are insisting that each ECI signer should provide the number of their ID card or passport number - a requirement that would radically decrease participation. Independent data protection bodies in Europe say ID numbers are not necessary for verifying signers -- in fact gathering this data is intrusive and can lead to identity fraud.
The European Commission has also proposed a short timeline and unnecessary country quotas for signatures that would de facto exclude many citizens’ groups from using the ECI. The Parliament has countered these with citizen friendly requirements -- a 18-month deadline for signature collection, and country quotas in just one fifth of all EU Member States.
Avaaz is already using the ECI to improve European democracy -- we've gathered over 1 million signers and are submitting the first ever ECI to freeze all genetically modified crops from entering Europe. But this and every other future initiative we build could be crippled if the officials manage to railroad through their stringent conditions.
Negotiations are at the critical last phase -- let's make the ECI work, and make European governance work for us. Sign the petition now, and forward this message to everyone:
Luis, Benjamin, Alice, Paula, Alex, Ben, Pascal, Ricken and the entire Avaaz team.
European Voice, "MEPs look to make it easier to launch citizens' initiatives":
Initiative for the ECI, "Parliament can still prevent member states weakening ECI":
More information about the "Campaign for a citizen-friendly European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI)":
Democracy International promotes direct democracy, and is the umbrella organisation sponsoring the ECI-Campaign: